The obsessive sniffing. The non-stop scent marking. The Nobody-Is-At-Home feeling I get when trying to get her full attention outside on the leash. Yep, it's all indicators that Bella is going into heat and today she started full force. I highly recommend neutering female dogs, I would do it in a heartbeat if I wasn't being cheap and saving myself $500 to do something else (like buy camera equipment).
We did, however, go out and lay a track. I made it a little shorter than yesterday (75m) and really wanted her not to get lost so when I crossed a low bush similar to the one two days ago I was more generous with treats and went as straight through it as possible. Other than that I am slowly starting to reduce the amount. What surprises me is how fast she works the tracks and at first I thought she was definitely just sniffing out the treats and not my scent but now that I see how many treats she tends to leave behind and still not lose track I am starting to have more faith.
I am an air traffic controller and in my work I first and foremost trust myself to do my job inside the area I work at each given time. I don't think about whether my colleagues are doing theirs once the airplanes cross the boundaries of control sectors, I must trust them like they must trust me.
With Bella, I am finding it a challenge to stop worrying about whether she is doing her job and just let go. Maybe I am really a control freak at heart and that it's a good lesson for me. We are both learning and I am no doubt learning a lot more than Bella is. It's interesting to see her go slightly of track (in my eyes) and then jump right onto it as if she was never off it... which is no doubt what was actually going on.
Today I saw a video with a very brief explanation of how marking was taught for a drug/explosive detection dog using a wooden box. I may give that a try here at home using a very advanced tool -children's shoe box. The clip added the missing link.